I understand now why it is a classic and I can see why it is an important book of the twentieth-century. I've been reading up on how the book was promI understand now why it is a classic and I can see why it is an important book of the twentieth-century. I've been reading up on how the book was promoted and published and that is interesting. And it is an important post-WWII novel about WWII but is really more about Vietnam. Remember when important books about war were published and made us think that war isn't so great? I'm still waiting for the important book about our current wars. That said, not really my cup of tea. ...more
This Japanese novel was originally published in 1972, but many aspects felt very much from today. The novel follows Akiko a middle-aged wife and motheThis Japanese novel was originally published in 1972, but many aspects felt very much from today. The novel follows Akiko a middle-aged wife and mother whose father-in-law becomes senile and his care falls to Akiko. So many themes here--taking care of the elderly, quality of life and indignities in aging, the sandwich generation, how care responsibility often falls on women, and the bewilderment of the system of elder care. I would be reading along in this novel and would learn a bit about Japanese culture in he 20th century only to then be struck by Akiko's story and how familiar it felt to the experience here in the US in the 21st century.
This wasn't exactly a feel-good novel. In fact, it dredged up a whole lot of feelings and made want to give my brother a hug for all he does for our mother in Southern California every day. And this book also made me re-experience that year of bewilderment and pain our family had when Mom fell ill and we had to make the decision to put her in a senior home. A piece of advice--get your parent a good geriatric attorney to help you sort everything out. I'll be visiting her here in just a few weeks. For years, I called my Mom every single day but she is at that point now where she can't call me anymore, and if I talk to her on the phone she won't stay on for long. This summer I visited I had the opportunity to sit with her for a couple of hours, and it was the first time in a long time that we seemed to have a real conversation like we did for so many years. I miss my Mom. And I take a little comfort from some scenes with Akiko that sometimes you just need to hold on to these small moments--one where she finds her father-in-law looking at a beautiful magnolia blossom or the small joy he gets from watching a bird they buy him. ...more
Not my favorite Hawthorne (reserved for the Scarlett Letter) but still an interesting read. The story itself is a little over melodramatic but what maNot my favorite Hawthorne (reserved for the Scarlett Letter) but still an interesting read. The story itself is a little over melodramatic but what makes it worthwhile is the placement of the story in a New England transcendentalist commune. ...more
Woke up in the middle of the night and decided to finish this. This is my second Durrell book--I read his travel memoir Bitter Lemons of Cyprus whichWoke up in the middle of the night and decided to finish this. This is my second Durrell book--I read his travel memoir Bitter Lemons of Cyprus which I adored. The prose in this book which is the first of the Alexandria Quartet is breathtaking. I had my Kindle highlighter on and running.
I posted this one the other day which sums of the kind of prose and imagery you will find: "In a grocer's window I saw a small tin of olives with the name Orvieto on it, and overcome by a sudden longing to be on the right side of the Mediterranean, entered the shop: bought it; had it opened there and then: and sitting down at a marble table in that gruesome light I began to eat Italy, its dark scorched flesh, hand-modelled spring soil, dedicated vines."
This was a good book to read with a Kindle-I found both the dictionary as well as the X-Ray of the book helpful to track characters.
And thank you Internet--I was able to listen to a portion of this audio of Lawrence Durrell speaking at UCLA in 1972. In the audio he talks about his friendship with Henry Miller and other writers. https://youtu.be/4ZTajhgR82M Also sort of fun--this audio at first sounds like it could have been recorded recently until the questions start. At about 17:40 some idiot poet starts off calling those around him intellectual facists, mentions he isn't allowed on campus during the day for political reasons, whines that poets should be able to make money, and then goes on to demand Durrell read him because he is "quite good." Something you could only find on campus between the late sixties and early seventies....more
A Hollywood actress while on an off-season vacation in Cannes is sucked into the high partying ex-pat world of Dick and Nicole Driver.
About a quarterA Hollywood actress while on an off-season vacation in Cannes is sucked into the high partying ex-pat world of Dick and Nicole Driver.
About a quarter of the way through the novel--the story takes a long detour into the past of the couple, how they met and their story.
I enjoyed this novel immensely. I found the characters well drawn out and Fitzgerald is a master of prose especially at the sentence level. This was Fitzgerald's last novel (written while his wife Zelda was hospitalized for schizophrenia). ...more
This was two books in one--Nancy Mitford's loosely autobiographical novels about the upper class in England. The humor was not quite Wodehouse but theThis was two books in one--Nancy Mitford's loosely autobiographical novels about the upper class in England. The humor was not quite Wodehouse but the tone was more humorous than Downton Abbey but touches a bit on some of the same themes.
My favorite quote from the book: “But I think she would have been happy with Fabrice,' I said. 'He was the great love of her life, you know.' Oh, dulling,' said my mother, sadly. 'One always thinks that. Every, every time.”...more
Sex was alive and well in Cuba according to the memoir of Reinaldo Arenas. But so was totalitarianism, homophobia, torture, betrayal, and poverty. DesSex was alive and well in Cuba according to the memoir of Reinaldo Arenas. But so was totalitarianism, homophobia, torture, betrayal, and poverty. Despite those things there are also friends, community, and a love of poetry and literature. No matter what happened to him Arenas kept writing--hiding his manuscripts in his roof and smuggling them out of Cuba to be published abroad.
His story is a triumph but his end tragic--he died in New York in 1990 by his own hand after suffering from AIDS. His goodbye note though, left some hope, "I want to encourage the Cuban people out the country as well as on the Island to continue fighting for freedom. I do not want to convey to you a message of defeat but of continued struggle and of hope. Cuba will be free. I already am."
After reading this book, I have added his work to my wishlist.
"I will tell my truth like a Jew who has suffered from racism, a Russian who has been in the Gulag, or any human being who has eyes to see things as they are: I cry out: therefore I am." --Reinaldo Arenas...more
I can admire a writer who is not too flowery and verbose. I have always liked to get to the point rather quickly myself when writing an email or blogI can admire a writer who is not too flowery and verbose. I have always liked to get to the point rather quickly myself when writing an email or blog post. So I was curious to read Hemingway and check out his style since all I really knew was that it is spare and has spawned some Bad Hemingway short story contests. I know Hemingway was a reporter, a larger than life character, heavy drinker and he killed himself. I know the plots to many of his most famous works. But I hadn't actually read any of his books.
I was at the library to pick up a few holds and decided to pull up Boxall's list of 1001 Books and Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises rose to the top. It was on hand so I picked I up. So now I'm going to give a shameless plug to a good idea of a Kickstarter project--Start Here. This is a book I want--a list all the great writers you've wanted to read with advice on which books to start with.
So I get why this book is famous--lost generation, running of the bulls in Pamplona, bullfights, but it did start slow for me. It took me a while to figure out who was who--Mike, Robert, Jake... especially in running dialogue. The first quarter of the book establishes that these characters are some pretty heavy partiers just kicking around Europe. Then finally some movement when they take off from Paris to Spain. They fish, they drink, they attend the fiesta in Pamplona, they fight, they drink. By the time they hit Pamplona I was hooked. I wanted to know why all these men were in love with Brett. And why Jake the narrator or any of the men put up with her. And then of course she essentially asks that herself with her "I don't want to be a bitch" speech. It is truly a great story and captures the feeling of a time and place....more
Meh. I finally read this from Boxall's list. The NY Times Book Review called it, "A deliciously funny book, absurd and exuberant, wild and uproarious.Meh. I finally read this from Boxall's list. The NY Times Book Review called it, "A deliciously funny book, absurd and exuberant, wild and uproarious." I found it unfunny and annoying. I can see how it was shocking for it's time, for me now, it is shocking in it's treatment of women....more